Australian Unity returning $6m in COVID-19 savings to members

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Australian Unity has become the latest private health insurer to start returning funds set aside in the early period of the pandemic for a 'deferred claims liability'.

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority directed insurers to make the provision for claims 'deferred' during the pandemic as a result of the halt on elective surgery. The size of the sector's deferred claims liability peaked at around $1.7 billion but insurers have started returning it to members in the form of claims and premium relief.

Australian Unity has now announced it will return around $6 million in COVID-19 savings to members on top of the $18 million of support measures already delivered.

The company said these savings will be provided as premium relief to private health insurance members from November 2021.

This latest initiative follows the company’s lowest average premium increase in 20 years - the sixth lowest of all 35 health funds in 2021.

Other COVID-19 support measures have included a six-month deferral of the 2020 premium increase, extending policy suspensions, premium relief for those on government JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments, covering COVID-19 admissions regardless of product type, and recognition of telehealth consultations as a feature of extras claiming.

CEO David Brajkovic said, “As a provider of health, wealth and care services, Australian Unity is focused on doing all it can to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on our members, customers and the Australian community.”

The company said it will notify health insurance members directly about how and when they will receive the premium relief.